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Microsoft caps Ballmer bonus over mobile phone, tablet failures

Kin hell means Stevie piggy bank still rattles

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer missed out on a maximum bonus in the company’s last fiscal year, after he failed to move quickly enough against Apple’s iPad and lost market share in the mobile phone biz.

The unsuccessful launch and speedy demise of Microsoft’s doomed social networking mobile device Kin also kept Ballmer’s piggy bank a little lighter than he might have hoped for in the year ended 30 June 2010.

Despite record sales the 54-year-old CEO only* picked up a cash bonus of $670,000, which was equal to his annual salary.

According to a US Securities and Exchange Commission proxy filing, that payout represented only half of the maximum bonus big Steve could have received if he had successfully pursued “innovations to take advantage of new form factors”. In other words, offer a sexy iPad tablet to the world.

Microsoft’s board of directors said Ballmer had done a good job with the launch of Windows 7, Office 2010, Bing and other products. They added that the chief’s “disciplined expense management” alongside the software releases had helped boost the firm’s coffers with revenues of $62.5bn for the year.

The board said that work was “well underway” in Microsoft’s move to the cloud with its Azure and Office Web Apps products, as well as with its active gaming (Kinect) wing of the business.

But none of that was enough to award Ballmer a maximum 200 per cent bonus for the year.

That said, Kin was a total dog’s dinner, which was killed by Microsoft after just three months due to pisspoor sales.

Furthermore, the company is yet to deepen its footprint in the smartphone market where it had lost share to Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry and Google’s Android gadgets over the past few years.

MS will be shortly hoping to change that, with what looks likely to be the launch of Windows Phone 7 expected - though yet to be confirmed - in the next few weeks.

And then of course, there is the iPad. For all of Microsoft’s proclamations that it is “all-in” on the tablet, the vendor is in effect playing a desperate game of catchup with Apple. ®

*Yes, we know that is still an awfully good lump of cash.

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